Popular yoga as folk religion
The chapter on western modernist yoga traced the diffusion of the yoga bug through the social body of modernity. It started among the cultural elites and ended among the masses of women of the emerging middle classes. With caution we could describe this as a process where an ‘elite religion’ gave rise to a popular religion’. As the yoga bug spread we also saw how it became shaped and re-contextualised by the various sign fields of modernity. Elite yoga of year 1900 is not the same as popular yoga of year 2000. Throughout history yoga was an elite discourse. But with the advent of modernity we see yoga increasingly as a popular discourse conducted in different social strata.
Anthropologists often apply the distinction between elite’ and folk’ religions. So following the anthropologists we could replace the word popular’ with folk’. Let us now finally visualise modernist popular yoga’ in the perspective of a folk religion’. What is special about a folk or popular religion as opposed to an elite religion?
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